In my last blogpost I was talking about feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do this time of semester. Dr. Rita Durant (University of South Florida-St Petersburg) sent me this link. In the article Dr. Susan R. Johnson (Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Iowa), discusses some ways to deal with the stress of being overwhelmed with the work load you have.
Some suggestions she makes:
- Slow down...block out everything and focus entirely on what you are doing in this moment.
- Complete a task. Randomly choose a task from your immediate environment and do it. Your priorities are not important in this step – in fact, an obsession with trying to find the very highest priority task to do may have precipitated the overwhelming episode in the first place!
- Make a list of everything you have to do. The subtext here is that stress is increased the more you try to keep things in your head.
- Clear your workspace. The goal at this stage is not organization, but focus. Thus, it is OK for the short run if you simply put everything from your desk on the floor. This gives you a clear space in which to do each task, without your eye (and mind) being drawn off-task by seeing the other work you need to do.
- Find a 10% solution...it is better to make small adjustments so that you can get back in control. To apply this method, think of activities in your daily life that seem to take too much time, or that specifically add to your sense of overwhelm. Select one, and break it down into steps. Look at each step separately, and see if there is a way it can be done more quickly or efficiently, delegated to someone else, or eliminated altogether.
Dr. Johnson has some great suggestions. One of the questions I ask my students is, how many use a "to do list" of some sort? Usually it's about half the class and usually it's my better students.